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Users’ Perceptions of an in-Home Electronic Medication Dispensing System: A Qualitative Study

Authors Ahmad A, Chiu V, Arain MA

Received 4 December 2019

Accepted for publication 10 January 2020

Published 11 February 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 31—39


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Armghan Ahmad, Venus Chiu, Mubashir Aslam Arain

Alberta Health Services, Health Systems Evaluation and Evidence, Calgary, AB, Canada

Correspondence: Mubashir Aslam Arain
Alberta Health Services, Health Systems Evaluation and Evidence, 10301 Southport Lane SW Calgary, AB T2W 1S7, Canada
Tel +1 403-943-0783
Fax +1 403-943-2875

Background: Managing and taking multiple medications as prescribed can be a difficult task for older adults. In-home medication dispensing technologies could help enhance care. The objective of the study was to determine users’ perspectives on a medication dispensing system (MDS) in supporting medication adherence of individuals living at home with chronic conditions.
Methods: This analysis is a part of a randomized controlled trial on an MDS in a Western Canadian province. We interviewed participants who were recruited into the intervention group and started using an MDS. A maximum variation purposive sampling was used to select interview participants based on age, number of medications, and health conditions.
Results: Thirteen participants were interviewed; most participants were females (n=11) and the average age was 63.7 (SD=8.2) years with an average of 8.9 (SD=3.6) prescribed medications. The most common health conditions were hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and anxiety and depression. Four main themes emerged from thematic analysis: MDS acceptability, MDS patient support, need for the MDS, and areas of technology improvement. Most of the participants found the MDS to be acceptable and convenient, although privacy and security was an issue for some older adults. Audio and visual reminders and pre-organized medication supported participants’ medication adherence and independence in daily routines. The perceived necessity of the MDS was split among participants with cost being one of the main concerns. Areas of technology improvement included the hard-to-open plastic medication packets and the sometimes inexact recording of medication adherence by the MDS if medications were dispensed on behalf of the patients.
Conclusion: The MDS is an acceptable tool for improving medication management and adherence in older adults. Increased medication adherence may lead to patient and system-level benefits.

Keywords: medication dispenser, qualitative research methods, patient experience and preferences, aging and seniors, polypharmacy, chronic conditions

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